Dilbert & Business Plans...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, Aug 02, 2012

I've been a student of the comics forever and well remember waiting dutifully for my father to come every night and hand me the Boston Traveler, which I then immediately thumbed to the funnies.  Today, I'm still addicted to the comics although it's my iPad now that delivers my daily fix, since my daily download of BostonGlobe.com sadly does not include the comics.  Dilbert continues to be one of my favorites for the simple reason that the parallels to daily business life are so close to reality that they either make me laugh or cringe.

sales plans

As a business planning architect and often the actual writer or editor of business and sales plans, I know that the planning processes that often start to take place in most companies at this time of year are a lot better than that explained here by the Pointy Hair Boss.  Having said that, my own feeling is that there are still way too many management teams that lack a business or even a sales planning process, or they shroud what process they do have in the inner sanctums of the finance department who then magically delivers a budget to the board for approval in December.

Q3 begins the business and sales planning processes in most companies, and should be regarded by both the senior and middle management teams as the single most important thing that they do all year.  The process actually creates the word "team" in management.  Done right, it defines tactical integration, it creates strategic balance, and it provides absolute focus of priorities.  At the end of the annual sales and business planning process come December, at that singular moment in time, the jigsaw puzzle has been assembled and all of the irregularly shaped pieces fit perfectly together into a total picture of what the next year is going to look like.  At least at that one point, there's an agreed on roadmap to follow for the upcoming trip that management is going to set out on for the upcoming year.

We actively participate in 70+ business plans a year, review another couple of hundred and then annually participate in hundreds of sales plans, so a few things that you might want to consider as you start down the annual Q3-Q4 planning process this fall:

  • Start with the End
    Define the deliverables that you want to solve for and work your way backwards. Before you just jump into the planning process with your senior team, agree on what the end point objectives are going to be in terms of rough metrics, but more importantly, significant strategic achievements for 2013.  An example might be that you want to have achieved the successful implementation of an indirect sales channel by 12/2013 that can bring in 10% of the 2014 revenue.

    Define the overarching strategic objectives first.  Take a look at where you are today and then begin outlining the primary strategies which would become the overarching initiatives through through which you are going to connect the dots between here and there.
  • Focus for Success
    Great management teams narrow their focus, put solid muscle behind a small number of 3 or 4 real strategic annual initiatives, and never try to boil the ocean.   Even if you think you can accomplish more than 3 or 4 strategic objectives in 12 months, the data says that you can't so don't try to be Super Manager here.  At the very worse, you will fail.   At the very best, you will have most probably totally confused your middle management team.

    Focus not only on what are those small number of strategies that you're going to chunk into for the year, but be very clear as to what you are not going to do. De-prioritizing strategies is as important as prioritizing.
  • Consistently Communicate & Review
    Once the plan is agreed on, have all of your management team physically sign the business document going to the board-just a tactic, but an important one.  More importantly, put in your calendar in December, the once-a-quarter full days that you and the management team will do a complete review of your business plan.  Re-plan where you must.  Communicate fully to the entire company what you're doing with as much transparency as practical confidentiality allows.   Acknowledge openly where you failed while you celebrate the company's successes.   And then do the same thing for every quarter during the year.

Here's a couple of things to help you on your way:

1.  A 30 minute video on the critical parts of creating solid business plans

2.  The download page for our just-finished update of our 75 page free ebook on Writing the Winning Business Plan

Good selling...and planning!

Head Coach
Linked In and Sales

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